By Alicia and Ava Dziak

Adorable puppies and kittens enter this world every day. Some are in loving homes, cared for and looked after and loved. Yet so many others are abandoned, not fed and treated like trash. These animals need a chance, which unfortunately, not all of them get. The good news is that many of these animals DO get a second chance, in large part due to the efforts of rescues such as Empire Animal Rescue Society, a.k.a. EARS, based in Salamanca.

Rescuing an animal is not a one-man (or woman) show. There are so many people involved, and in the case of most of the puppies my daughter Ava and I have fostered over the past six months, these people span several states.

There are the people who run the rescues in Kentucky, who save these animals from high-kill shelters and put out a plea for help.

Once arrangements are made for EARS in Salamanca to take the animals, many other things must be done before they can be adopted.

Before the animals even arrive in New York, people from EARS need to line up foster families, who will care for and love the animals until they can find a forever home.

We are one of these families and are proud of it!

Then there are the transporters, the network of people who drive in one-hour shifts to get the animals to EARS in Salamanca. When the animals do arrive, the farm is bustling with families scooping up their fosters and transporting them back to their homes. In our case, that’s another hour for these puppies, who have already spent almost the entire day in the car!

Once the animals are in the care of EARS, their pictures are posted on the EARS website so people can view all the dogs and cats up for adoption. As a foster family, we take lots of pictures and send any details to the EARS coordinators to add to the website too.

Besides the website, social media is a rescue’s best friend. With the option to view and share Facebook posts, foster families can add pictures and info about each animal, and post them online for all their friends, and hopefully friends-of-friends, to see. While I use the Facebook angle, Ava keeps busy posting current pics on Instagram, which seems to be the preferable site among the younger set.

While flooding the internet with pics of each animal is not a fool-proof way to get them adopted, it definitely helps, as we have had one neighbor and one friend-of-a-friend adopt two of the pups we’ve fostered, with a few others filling out applications for the future. Even if someone we know doesn’t adopt that particular animal, building awareness about EARS and all the animals they rescue is an important add-on benefit.

Many people who live near us in Springville hadn’t heard of EARS before, and now we love that we’ve become the go-to pet people in our school district! Parents and kids are always asking us about specific dog breed mixes they’re looking for, and we’re hoping to one day find the perfect pet for them.

From what we’ve found, this system of transporting the animals to New York and finding them good foster homes until they get adopted works. Since we started this project in the fall, we’ve had eight puppies come and go to good forever homes (plus one dog who we kept!), and currently have one puppy who we hope will find a wonderful home soon.

Fostering can be a lot of work at times, but it’s made us all come together as a family, dividing and conquering all the work that comes along with the rewards of puppy-ing.

EARS makes sure each animal is up-to-date on shots, and that they are fixed through EARS. Even transportation to appointments is a team effort between the foster families and EARS.

EARS is always looking for foster families to help care for the large number of cats and dogs (and sometimes other animals like pigs!) that come to them. If you can help, send an email to empirerescue@gmail.com or check out their Facebook page, where the needs for specific animals are posted.

March 2016

Dear Foster Dog Diary,

My name is Ava Dziak and I am a seventh grade student at Springville Griffith Middle School. I am doing a project called “Kids Can Make a Difference” in English and social studies. The purpose of this project is to help make a difference in the world through community service or volunteer work.

Rocky and Apollo

We got to name these puppies and named them after Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed from the Rocky movies, which my family loves. Rocky and Apollo came from a hoarding situation in Kentucky. They were nine weeks old when we got them.

These sibling puppies are Chihuahua-Spitz mixes (a Spitz is a medium-sized Alaskan Eskimo dog) and are the same colors, yet look so different from each other. Rocky is a girl who is very small, has a stub tail, pointy ears and a black muzzle. Apollo is a boy who is bigger than his sister, has a long tail, fluffy ears and a brown muzzle. He is very social and they are both hyper.

They had three other siblings that we didn’t take—one was white, one was brown and white, and the other was the same colors as Rocky and Apollo.

After we had both puppies for four weeks, we took them to Salamanca to get fixed and picked them up the next day. When we took them home, we gave them a dewormer medicine that went in their food and flea medicine that we dripped down their backs.

Throughout the time that we had them, their bond was growing closer because they would sleep on each other and play with each other and I was worried how they would be and act once they were separated. Also, right after they got fixed, they kept biting each other when they were together and I was very worried that they would bite the other one’s stitches out. We have had to give these puppies more baths than any other foster puppies!

After five weeks with both of them, a woman who lives in Lackawanna wanted to adopt Rocky as a birthday present for herself. She came with her son and they loved her at first sight and took her home.

Our friend’s daughter is allergic to dogs, but when they met Apollo, they loved him and they wanted to see how she felt around him. After we brought him to their house, they decided that even though they loved him, it wasn’t the best idea, knowing his fur might change as he gets older and be a problem for her allergies.

The good news is we have other friends who want to adopt him now and are sending in their application this week. Hopefully it will work out so we can see him whenever we want!

Things I’ve Learned:

• I know what a Spitz is and looks like.

• I know how to give dogs flea medicine.

• Certain breeds of dogs are harder and take longer to get adopted.

Ways You Can Help:

1. Like the EARS Facebook page and check out their wish list.

2. Email empirerescue@gmail.com if you can foster an animal or would like to volunteer in other ways.

3. Consider adopting a furry friend! Visit empire.petfinder.com to see all the animals they have up for adoption.